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Fortieth anniversary of when Larry pooled his resources


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By James Blears


It was a fight like no other before, or since...forty years ago Larry Holmes dug deep and then even deeper to win the final round of a ballistic, titanic contest for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title, with a magnificent and courageous last gasp effort to forever be marvelled at, cherished, revered and remembered in the primary pages of Boxing history.

Larry was WBC champion from 1978-1983.  He successfully defended his heavyweight title twenty times. In a career spanning 1973-2002, he fought seventy five times winning sixty nine, with forty four KO's and just six losses.  But the pinnacle that Larry reached,  which started it all in motion, was on that long ago night of June 9th 1978 in Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

Champion Ken Norton was absolutely determined to retain his title.  He and Larry matched each other punch for punch for a mind blowing fourteen rounds.  At that point all three Judges scored it dead even!   It was all on the last round!   Kenny started strongly but that famed Larry left jab found its mark and Larry visibly changed gear mid round, to connect with a higher proportion of stinging combinations.  

Aware of how close it was, and due to the encroaching talons of outright fatigue, both men stood their ground and slugged.  The crowd, who thought they'd already seen it all,  were back on their feet roaring adulation. They were getting a grandstand finish with both boxers fighting flat out, pushing themselves beyond any recognized limit, in their burning desire to hold the Green and Gold Belt aloft to the velvet evening sky.  

Larry won the last round on two scorecards, and triumphed with a Split Decisión. As the bell ending that last round sounded,  Kenny gave Larry a light pat on the back of the shoulder.  Larry has since said: "Kenny was a great fighter, a great man and a great friend.  Now he's gone, I so miss him."

After the fight, Larry with the Green and Gold Belt around his waist joined his team and exactly as planned, they all jumped in the hotel swimming pool to cool off.  The belt was none the worse for wear!

To mark one of Boxing's GREAT achievement  anniversaries, World Boxing Council Secretary General Victor Silva filmed  an array of tributes to Larry from Boxing's finest. Danny Garcia said: "Congratulations to you Larry and a salute."   Evander Holyfield said: "Well done Larry. You did a great job."

Badou Jack said: "Larry you have the best left jab in Boxing." Lennox Lewis said: "Larry, I watched you, I learned from you.  You are a credit to the Sport and a credit to yourself."

And The BEST for last!  Larry's Wife Diane said: "I always knew you could do it!"

On the party line to the WBC Larry recalls: "It was a helluva fight. Kenny was a very tough guy.  He fought hard, he hurt me hard and I'm glad the fight went my way. That is the fight that made me who I am today!"

Asked about the prospect of the Wilder Vs Joshua clash,  Larry praised them saying they fight real good, but... they don't seem to jab!

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